Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pihl Commissioner Steps Down

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pihl Commissioner Steps Down

Article excerpt

When Jim Black took over as the PIHL commissioner prior to the 2014-15 season, he had a plan to implement some of what he felt were much-needed changes to the league dynamic.

Now, after less than 18 months heading the league, the PIHL is forced to look for new leadership to continue what Black started.

On Feb. 1, Black officially stepped down as the PIHL commissioner and turned the reins over to his assistant, Dave Fryer, who will head the league on an interim basis until the position can officially be filled after the season. Black was part of a consortium that purchased the former BladeRunners in Warrendale, which was renamed the Baierl Complex and is home to several PIHL teams.

"Essentially it became too much on my plate and, having a stake in that facility, I just couldn't do both," Black said. "On the business side of things, I had to focus a lot more time to the rinks and I couldn't do both."

Though Black was in office for only a short time, several of the policies he helped implement will have far-reaching effects for years to come.

One of the first things he did as commissioner was to do a complete restructuring of the league, turning aside the usual attendance-based system for team placement and instituting an annual realignment of organizations based on a weighted system that took into account each team's classification and performance over a three-year span.

Though there have been several teams that have been jostled by the restructuring and a few longtime rivalries that were halted, the overall competitive balance of the league that has come from the annual realignments cannot be discounted.

In Class AAA, all 11 teams had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs with five games remaining in the regular season and only five points separated the top seven teams. In the two Class AA conferences, the top eight teams - four in each - were only five points apart last week, while in Class A just eight points separated the top six teams in the two conferences.

"I believe that we took the PIHL in a different direction in that we were open and listened to the membership and having their voice be heard," Black said. …

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